Cédric Doumbé signs with PFL: why this is a big deal

Professional Fighters League have signed Cameroonian-born French kickboxer-turned-MMA fighter Cédric Doumbé.

Once in contract talks with the UFC, it was announced on Wednesday that the former two-time Glory kickboxing welterweight champion will now fight under the PFL banner.

The 30-year-old’s negotiations with the UFC broke down after his scheduled fight night bout with Darian Weeks was cancelled.

The fight was supposed to take place on September 3 2022, but the French MMA Federation decided not to sanction the bout because of Doumbé’s lack of mixed martial arts experience.

The rule states that MMA fighters with less than 10 professional bouts must not have more than a four fight differential between them. At the time Doumbé was 2-0 and Weeks was 5-2.

Doumbé – nicknamed ‘The Best’ – is now 4-0 in mixed martial arts, with three wins in MMA Grand Prix. All of his four victories have come by way of knockout.

The ex-kickboxer is a force of nature and a born finisher. His kickboxing record stands at 75-7-1 with 45 knockouts and his undefeated record in MMA bodes well for a bright future in PFL.

Doumbé won his first Glory title back in 2016, becoming the first French champion in the organisation’s history. He went on to defend his title twice before suffering a split decision loss to Murthel Groenhart. ‘The Best’ then put together a run that gave him the opportunity to regain the welterweight championship, and he did so in style by beating Harut Grigorian by TKO in the second round.

Doumbé went on to defend the title three times before announcing his retirement from kickboxing in 2021 to pursue his MMA goals.

Once a striker tries their hand at mixed martial arts, the questions raised time and time again are what will their takedown defence look like? How will they fair against a wrestler or grappler?

In his MMA fights so far, Doumbé has looked good in these areas. He tends to lean over his front leg in a low stance, preparing himself for any takedown attempt, and this allows him to sprawl if his opponent changes levels.

Being a kickboxer, Doumbé’s striking is of course his strength. He is a powerful, diverse striker who is able to adapt and mix up his attacks when he needs to. He is unorthodox and has a wicked right hand, vicious uppercut, and likes to throw in low kicks with these weapons. His reflexes are quick too and he is able to slip and roll with his opponent’s attacks proficiently.

There is certainly room for improvement in Doumbé’s game. He is new to mixed martial arts so there will be a lot to work on, but we have seen world-class kickboxers make the transition over to MMA before and become extremely successful – take Israel Adesanya and Alex Pereira as perfect examples.

Many people in the MMA community may have been disappointed that Doumbé was unable to join the UFC at that particular time, but his move to PFL might just be the best thing for him at this point in his career. He can cut his teeth and hone his skills there, and I can see him causing all sorts of problems for the PFL welterweight division.

At 30 years old, Doumbé is arguably in the prime of his career, and the fact that he has signed for a promotion like PFL should excite MMA fans. Who knows, maybe we will see ‘The Best’ in the UFC at some point down the line after all.


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